Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I'm just popping in to say that over the next couple of weeks I will not be posting as I have a stack of things to do before Christmas, and am going camping for a week after Christmas and over New Years.

So I just want to take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry and blessed Christmas and New Years! Have fun, enjoy the company of your family and friends and remember why we celebrate Christmas at all...


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tas Lit Tues: Tasmanian Authors

When I wrote my thesis in my honours year at university, I wanted to write on Tasmanian literature. It fascinated me. But I hardly knew of any Tasmanian authors, except for a few I had studied in a unit all about Tasmanian Literature. So today, instead of posting a poem or an excerpt from a book (they take ages to type up!) I thought I would list a few Tassie authors, with a note or two about each one.

Nan Chauncy - (28 May 1900 – 1 May 1970) an author of novels for ages 10 -16, very popular in her time (approximately 1960-1970). However, not even her award winning books have ever been republished. Go to this post for more.

Marcus Clarke - (24 April 1846 – 2 August 1881) born in London, later emigrated to Australia. He visited Tasmania in 1870, for first hand experience of the place he was writing about in articles on the convict period. He is most famous for The Term of His Natural Life. I've not yet read it, partly because it is a very think book, and partly because my mum says it is depressing.

Marcus Clarke

Richard Flanagan - (born in Longford, Tasmania, in 1961) maybe one of the best known of Tasmania's authors, his latest book, Wanting, only came out in 2008. The Sound of One Hand Clapping was made into a film in 1998. He has written five novels in total, besides non-fiction (he is a historian) and political articles. His first novel was Death of a River Guide.

Christopher Koch - (born in Hobart, Tasmania, in 1932) author of eight books. I have only read his first one, The Boys in the Island (1958), which I loved. The Year of Living Dangerously (1978) has been made into a movie, starring Sigourney Weaver and Mel Gibson. He is a beautiful writer. I don't think I will ever forget The Boys in the Island.

Allan Smith - Okay, not famous (yet!) but I had to put him in because he is my old high school science and physics teacher. He used to read it to us during homeroom (and occasionally during science), often making changes as he read it. I still remember it well, and that was in 2003. All profit from the sale of the goes to the Fistula hospital in Ethiopia, run by an Australian doctor, Catherine Hamlin. Go here for more - you can even read the first seven chapters. (There is also a sequel, but I can't remember what it is called.)

The cover of Allan Smiths novel, designed by his son.

Margaret Scott - (1934 - 29 August 2005) best known for being a poet, she was also an educator  and public intellectual, working at the University of Tasmania for several years. After retiring she lived on the Tasman Peninsular (where Port Arthur is located). After the Port Arthur Massacre, she wrote a book that goes through the events of the day and those surrounding it: Port Arthur : a story of strength and courage (1997). I have read this book, and it really honours all the emergency workers that played important roles that day, as well as remembering those who died and those who lost family members. I cried a lot while reading it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tas Lit Tues: You've Got Buckley's

Today's spotlight isn't quite on Tasmanian Literature, but it is on something that has passed into popular expression, so I think it counts!

On Sandy Bay Road, just where Battery Point turns into Sandy Bay, is a little triangle of green.

See the sign? That explains the story behind the popular saying "You've got Buckley's", or "Buckley's chance".

Here is what the sign says:

Buckley's Rest
This reserve takes its name from William Buckley, who escaped from the convict camp at Port Phillip in November 1803, lived with indigenous inhabitants for 32 years. His remarkable story of survival is said to be the basis of the colloquial expression "Buckley's chance". He spent his later years living in Arthur Circus, Battery Point. Following his death in 1856 he was buried in St George's Burial Ground (est.1841) which was located to the rear of this small reserve.

So there you go! When you tell someone they've got Buckley's, your NOT telling them that they have absolutely no chance of succeeding/surviving/getting something/whatever, but that they have a good chance of soon having a fantastic story to tell!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Rain Making

Over the weekend we had a LOT of rain in Southern Tasmania. Now, I don't know if this happens where you live, but here there seems to be certain things that help bring on the rain.

Here are some of the things:

Hanging out washing. A sure way for a light drizzle in winter, or a sudden shower in summer.

Planning a picnic somewhere with no rainproof shelter. (Prepare for thunder and lightening!)

Getting married in a garden with no backup plan. It happened to me. Houses were flooded that day.

If you want nonstop rain for three days, buy water to fill up your water tank. That's what my mother in law and her husband did last week... the day before it started to pour.

I'm sure there are more ways to make it rain! What activity do you do that brings it on? Tell me in the comments!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Saint Davids Park III

You've seen the entrance and found out it is a cemetery. Now it's time for some pretty pictures!

The main walkway through the park. The trees make a shady tunnel to walk under.

In the shade of the trees are many plants, though not many of them are flowering at the moment. These Hydrangeas are one of the few plants curently in flower.

These steps connect the park with the memorial walls (see yesterdays post).

Stone, sunshine and flowers. I love this photograph.

For me, Hobarts most attractive feature is its joining of old and new. Here, a gazebo and the Conservatorium of Music (University of Tasmania) somehow look good together in the same shot, despite the differences between them.

The gazebo. It is humble, but has been stood on by famous characters (Humphrey Bear) and people (George from Playschool). Quite a few classical musicians have also played their instruments on here. Not quite as exciting as Humphrey Bear and George, I know, but it does sound beautiful.

One of the walls that borders the park.

Usually, there are people dotted all over the grass. When the Christmas Carols were held here, the park was overflowing with people. It was great!

Another entrance to the park, this one is diagonally opposite to the one with the lions. We will be leaving the park through here. Beyond is Sandy Bay, which we will have to explore some other time!

I hope you've enjoyed our three-day exploration of St. Davids Park! If you're in Hobart, come here with some lunch and a frisbee, and see if you can find someone in the cemetery with the same surname as you!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Saint Davids Park II

So, St. Davids Park is a bit more than just grass, trees, a gazebo and lion statues.

It's a graveyard!

'Cemetery' might be a better word.

There are two types of graves in St. Davids Park. Memorial, and - for lack of a better word - tombs. Here is a 'tomb':

This is some of the writing on it:

I love how the sun is hitting it.

Here's another 'tomb':

In it are (or, were... the coffin is from 1859!) the remains of a man named James Kelly. I wonder if he was related to Ned?

Slightly seperated from the rest of the garden, down a flight of stone stairs (you'll see them tomorrow!) are walls with memorial plaques on them.

I didn't look at the plaques themselves (I had to meet my husband at the hairdressers and was already running late), but I'm sure I would have recognised at least some of the names.

Regardless of whether I'd recognise any names or not, the wall is very picturesque!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Saint Davids Park I

On Monday we had a mosey through Franklin Square. Today, we are going to be just a couple of blocks away from there, at St. Davids Park.

But we're not going inside - not yet! Today we're just getting to the entry... one of my favourite parts of St. Davids Park.

Look at the following two photos. The first one I took on Monday (the 23rd of November, 2009). The following image is a lantern slide and was probably taken between 1890-1920.

Lantern slide of by James Backhouse Walker, from here.

My photo is taken from further back, but you can see the same building in both. Whether or not the trees are the same is a different matter! You will notice that the entry lions aren't there.

The main entry to St. Davids Park. When the wisteria is in bloom this archway is utterly breathtaking.

The lions were not a part of the entry of park until 1988. Before that they had been stored at Port Arthur. Originally, the lions stood over the entrance of the Bank of Van Dieman's Land. They were carved in 1884 in a tent on the footpath. Interesting stuff! There's more here.

The closer you get to the lions the cooler and weirder they look. The eyes are a bit freaky.

Fairly self-explanatory.

This lion looks a little freaked out. Perhaps the branch infront of its face scared it?

I've always thought of St. Davids Park at a little oasis - a good place to have lunch and throw a frisbee. So what I realised after walking through the gate on Monday surprised me... and now I can't think of the park in the same way.

What did I realise? Check back tomorrow to find out!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tas Lit Tues: Nan Chauncy

I have a love hate relationship with Nan Chauncy's books. I love them becuase I wrote a thesis on them when I did Honours in English in 2008. That is also the reason why I hate them. Nevertheless, her books are steadily increasing in value, so I'm planning on holding onto the two I own, Mathinna's People and Tangara.

Now, Nan Chauncy was actually born in England in 1900, but her family moved to Tasmania while she was still a child. Her family bought land about 40 kilometers from Hobart. Today, that land is known as Chauncy Vale and it is a wildlife sanctuary, open to the public.

 Nan Chauncy, c. 1950.

She wrote over a dozen childrens novels, all set in Tasmania. Three of them won  Children's Book of the Year awards. Two of her books are about the Tasmanian Aborigines, and these were the books that I wrote my thesis on.

As we were talking about Sir John and Lady Jane Franklin the other day, I thought I would share a quote from Mathinna's People. Mathinna, if you remember, was the little Aboriginal girl who was adopted and then abandoned by the Franklins.

"About a year after Towterer's* death, the new Governer of Van Dieman's Land, Sir John Franklin, came to visit the Wybalena Settlement on Flinder's Island, with Lady Franklin. Both were eager to help the native people. Lady Franklin was very taken with one child, exclaiming, 'Oh, what a pretty infant! What is her name?
"It seems likely that this was Towterer's child, and that Mr. Robinson** answered that her name was 'Mary'.
"A little after this her mother, Wongerneep, died: only Parlin now remained to look after the child.
"She is next seen at Government House, and with a new name. Lady Franklin disliked the unsuitable and sometimes absurd names Mr. Robinson gave his charges: since the orphan 'Mary' had no native name of her own, she choe Mathinna for her. The little girl may have arrived wearing a string of tiny blue-green shells to suggest it, for the name means 'a necklace'.
"Mathinna did not forget her 'father'.^ Preserved in Eleanor Franklin's Journal is an 'unprompted' letter which she wrote at Government House to Parlin.

"'I am good little girl, I have a pen and ink cause I am good little girl. I do love my father. I have got a doll and a shift and a petticoat.'

"It then becomes a little confusing, lacking punctuation; but mention is made of the celebrated red frock. She wished her 'father' could come to see her, and says: 'I have got sore feet and shoes and stockings.'
"Lastly, the words 'I am very glad' seem to mean present happiness, and since there was little of this in her brief life--a tragic one ending in squalor and despair--it is best to part from the last of the Toogee now.
"Now--as she runs happily down the steps of old Government House to the waiting carriage, dressed in her dainty red dress, ready for the delights of driving through the streets of Hobart Town in the Governor's carriage. Now, while she looks half-proudly at the feet infine stockings and painful shoes--never before worn by a child of the Toogee!^^
"She will kick them off when the Old Ones come for her, and run free with the wind and her sister Djuke over the long beaches of the west, and hide in the parllerde [sacred place of the spirits], where the white men cannot find her."

* An Aboriginal chief.
** Go here and here for more infromation about George Robinson.
^ Referring to Parlin, who married Wongerneep after Towterer died.
^^ An Aboriginal Tribe that lived on the west coast of Tasmania.

Go here and here to learn more about Nan Chauncy

Monday, November 23, 2009

Franklin Square

Franklin Square is the hub of Hobart. It connects Hobart with Kingston, Sandy Bay, Bellerive and even New Norfolk. It is where the buses drop you off and take you up. There are thousands of people that would either sit in Franklin Square or one of the bus shelters along its edge everyday.

 One of the entrances to Franklin Square.

Franklin Square is bordered on two sides by highway, one taking you through Hobart to the Eastern Shore, the other takes you to Kingston and the Channel. On another side is a street used mostly by buses, with parking for moterbikes down the centre.

Macquarie Street. I have spent many hours sitting in these bus shelters, waiting and looking at the buildings across the street. I love the difference between the buildings: one so old and beautiful, not quite overwhelmed by the modern building behind it.

 A giant chess board. The chess pieces are stored under the seats. It is unusual for no one to be playing!

People playing instuments - whether busking or just playing to fill in time - is a common occurance around Hobart. This is a guy called Aaron. He should be busking! I would have put some money in.

Franklin Square was named after Sir John Franklin, one of the Governers of Tasmania. The Franklins are famous for adopting a Tasmanian Aboriginal girl, Mathinna. When they left Tasmania, they left Mathinna behind, and Mathinna died not long afterwards. It is not known if she died accidentally, was murdered, or committed suicide. It is known, however, that she died in absolute poverty. Lady Jane Franklin was very into literary and scientific things and the Franklins were very good for Hobart culture. The town Franklin, in the Huon Valley, was named after them.

In the centre of the Franklin Square is a fountain. Nearly all the benches in the square look towards the fountain. There is a statue of Sir Franklin in the centre of the fountain.

The fountain in Franklin Square, with a statue of Sir John Franklin in the centre.

This photo shows the diversity of the people who come to Franklin square. School kids, emos, the elderly, and people who have immigrated here.

I trust you've enjoyed your visit to Franklin Square with me! Hopefully you can understand why I consider it to be the centre of Hobart. Personally, I'm a bit surprised there were no pidgeons around.

See more photos here, and go here to read more about Sir and Lady Franklin.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hobart, I Love You

Hobart fascinates me. 

It is the second oldest city in Australia, beaten only by Sydney.

It has a lot of trees. (Thank you, Hobart Council!)

Peak hour traffic would be considered nonexistent by non-Tasmanians, but we all complain about it like crazy.

Salamanca market seems to be its heart... beating once a week... it's a strong heart.

Hobarts Heart: Salamanca Market (John de la Roche)

Nearly anywhere you look, you are likely to see a heritage building next to a relatively new/modern one.

There are lots of art galleries.

There are lots of public toilets. Some are really quite nice. (Yes, I have my favourites.)

There are lots of pigeons and seagulls.

It really only has three main streets: Macquarie, Davey and Elizabeth.

There are some really quite modern buildings, most of which outraged the general public for at least a couple of months. The general public pretty much still is outraged, but now they just mutter to themselves. Zero Davey and this water tank home to the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra are two excellent examples.

Remember this? The Myer Fire, 2007.

There are lots of little grassed areas, some hidden quite well (like the one behind the Playhouse Theatre).

It was named after a English person (as were most of Hobarts streets and the surrounding landmarks - Mount Nelson, Mount Wellington).

It has many fine dining restaurants and cafes.

It also has McDonalds, KFC, Hungry Jacks (two, actually!), Darrell Leas, and Hudsons.

Starbucks did not survive. It was a bit too American for Tassie taste.

What fascinates you about Hobart?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Uncooperative Cameras Make Blogging Difficult (& Some Interesting Facts)

What would it mean to you if I told you I went into town yesterday with the plan of taking photos of Salamanca to share with you, only my camera batteries died almost instantly... MEGA-instantly.
Well, perhaps a slight exaggeration. I did manage to get a couple of good pics while waiting for the bus. On Mount Nelson. You guys must be SICK of Mount Nelson! Last time, I promise!

Though I suppose this picture could be from anywhere... trust me, it's on Mount Nelson. I would have taken more photos of it, but (you guessed it) the camera died mid-click.

DID YOU KNOW: The suburb of Mount Nelson is home to around 2 346 people, with the major industry being education and training, and a majority of workers being professionals.
Unfortunately, not all 2 346 residents have a view like this, over Bellerive and Howrah:

 DID YOU KNOW: Mount Nelson was named after the small sloop Lady Nelson, in which Governor Collins arrived at Hobart. The Lady Nelson arrived in Hobart on February 16, 1804.
For some more information about Mount Nelson go here (the comments about home ownership may be slightly offensive...)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tas Lit Tues: Vivian Smith

Yes! A themed day!

When I was still in the "just planning and dreaming" stage of this blog (about a week and a half ago) one thing that I decided I really wanted to include was Tasmanian Literature.

I love books. I studied them at university for FOUR years. I even did a course on Tasmanian Literature. I own books written by Tasmanians (though I sold some of them, thinking I would never read them again... quoting them on a blog did not enter my mind).

Why on Tuesday?
Because it sounds cool! Say it out loud: "Tas Lit Tues". See?

I thought I would start this series with a poem by one of Tasmanias best known poets: Vivian Smith.

Vivian Smith was born in Tasmania in 1933. He now lives in Sydney, but many of his poems are interested in portraying the Tasmania that he knew when he was young.

This poem is simply about Tasmania, which I think is an appropriate way to start the series.


Water colour country. Here the hills
rot like rugs beneath enormous skies
and all day long the shadows of the clouds
stain the paddocks with their running dyes.

In the small valleys and along the coast,
the land untamed between the scattered farms,
deconstructed churches lose their paint
and failing pubs their fading coat of arms.

Beyond the beach the pine trees creak and moan,
in the long valley poplars in a row,
the hills breathing like a horse's flank
with grasses combed and clean of the last snow.

What do you think? Does this poem remind you of the Tasmania you know and remember?

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Truganini Reserve, Mount Nelson

Last week was all about Mount Nelson. Hopefully you feel like you know more about it now.

There was one post I didn't manange to fit into last week (the fog threw my plans off...) so I am going to post it now, as I feel it is important. 

Mount Nelson is surrounded by reserve bushland (land that cannot be privately owned or built on). There are actually two reserves: the Skyline Reserve, which extends along the ridge of Mount Nelson, and the Truganini Reserve.

 The offical Parks and Wildlife sign, indicating the start of the reserve area and who the reserve is dedicated to.

Not so much a vantage point to look at the view, as it is a place to remember the first people who live in Tasmania. The Aboriginal tribe most likely to have visited Mount Nelson would have been the Mouheneenner tribe, who lived where Hobart is now.

The Truganini Reserve covers the south-east side of Mount Nelson, from the very top right down to Lower Sandy Bay. There is a walking track, but I have not walked it (though apparently it is only a 90 minute return!). What I wanted to show you was the memorial to the Tasmanian Aborigines, which is near the Signal Station.

Here it is:

My husband looking at the memorial. He was told "look thoughtful", but I don't think he is acting.

Tokens of remembrance: small bunches of bark and flowers.

 A close up of the memorials text.

In case you are unable to read the writing on it, this is what it says: 
Truganini Died 8 May 1876
Truganini Park 8 May 1976
Dedicated to
The Tasmanian Aboriginal People
And Their Descendants

Friday, November 13, 2009

Here's the View!

As you all know, the other day I tried my hardest to take some pictures of the view from Mount Nelson, but the low cloud proved to be too much of an obstacle. 

On Wednesday the low cloud was gone, so once my husband got back from work we drove up to the lookout to take some photos for you. Unfortunately, it was a bit hazy, so it is difficult to see the some of the most distant places, such as the Tasman Peninsular, but it is still gorgeous!

This is what you first see when you arrive at the Signal Station lookout. The pole is not the original semaphore, which was dismantled over a century ago.

When there is no fog there is actually a view! The lookout has a fantastic outlook. However, if you want to look over Hobart you will not be able to see it from here. Instead, you will need to walk over to a different lookout.

This is the view from the lookout that overlooks Hobart. At the moment there is a cruise ship in--quite a common occurrence. If you squint a little you can see the Tasman Bridge.

There are a lot of benches to sit on up here, each with a beautiful view. However, you do get very cool breezes up here, so it isn't particularly nice to sit still for an extended period of time.

This very hazy photo looks over Droughty Point (light green) and the beginning of South Arm. Beyond that (barely visible) is the Tasman Peninsular, where Eaglehawk Neck and Port Arthur are located.

In the haze is the rest of South Arm. Lots of people have shacks down there. Beyond it is the Southern Ocean and Antarctica!

A closer view of South Arm. In this shot you can see Betsey Island (that big lump) and the thin strip of land that connects South Arm to the rest of Tasmania. Apparently all the people who commit suicide off the Tasman Bridge are washed up on that long thin strip of land. I bet you all wanted to know that lovely little fact.

In the foreground is the Spit--a small peninsular that comes off the end of South Arm. You can see the beginning of it in the photo above. Beyond that is the first part of South Arm and in the background is the Tasman Peninsular.

What I love so much about this view is how it is layered (for lack of a better word). There is water, and then some land. Then some more water and then another strip of land. And then it repeats again. Beautiful.

To get a better idea of the view, follow these instuctions:

1. Follow this link to Google Maps.

2. Copy and paste this text into the search box: the station cafe Mount Nelson TAS

3. Zoom in as much as you can until it changes to street view. Now, it will be as if you are standing there! If you swivel it the whole way around, you will also see Mount Wellington, and the public toilets! (The brick builing with the little round window.) I know, exciting!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Signal Stations: What Was Their Purpose?

So far, you have seen pictures of Mount Nelson (and today you'll see a few more!), but my darling husband told me he wanted more words, so more words it is!

Yesterday I took you up to the Signal Station to show you the view. Thick fog, however, changed that (but don't worry, I will take those photos for you!). I studied Tasmanian Literature and history when I was at university, so I think I tend to take it for granted that everyone knows what the purpose of the signal station was. For those of you who don't know, here is a brief outline of the purpose of the Mount Nelson signal station.

A corner table in the signalman's cottage, now transformed into The Station Cafe. This table would usually overlook Storm Bay and the Tasman Peninsular, but on Tuesday fog was the only thing to be seen.


The signal station on Mount Nelson was the first one to be constructed in Tasmania, back in 1811. It was situated in a very strategic place and served two purposes. Before telling you what these purposes are, I'll explain what the signal station would have looked like.

The original signal station was a tall pole, to which flags could be attatched to send signals to Hobart. In 1829 a new type of semaphore (or signal station) reached Tasmania: the moveable arm semaphore. Like the orginal one it was a tall pole, but had moveable arms to which flags could be attatched. This particular system had three arms, and could send several hundred different messages. The Mount Nelson semaphore was unique in that it was used for two purposes. As a result of its dual usage, it had two sets of arms and was 80 feet tall (24.4 meters).

Here is a picture of what it looked like: 

 A portion of the text below the picture: The Last Semaphore Signal. John Beattie, c. 1890.The last semaphore signal code, 343 "Forgotten" was sent from here to the Mulgrave Battery Signal Station at Castray Esplanade, Battery Point around 1890 as a farewell to visual telegraphy. The semaphore was dismantled shortly after.

The lower set of arms was used to send shipping information, and the higher set was used for communicating with Port Arthur, a large penal settlement on the Tasman Peninsular. It was Charles O'Hara Booth who saw the importance of having a way to communicate rapidly between Port Arthur and Hobart (for example, if a prisoner escaped) and he set up a system of signal stations between the two locations.

Apparently, if it was a fine day, a short message and reply could be completed in about quarter of an hour. This is quite impressive, especially when you compare it to current modes of communication. A telephone call could easily take just as long, particularly if you can't find the phone number. Email also takes a few minutes each way, longer if the internet connection is slow, and much longer if the receiver is away from the computer.

The semaphore system worked well, but in 1880 the electric telegraph arrived and the signal station was no longer needed. The last signal was sent soon after this: 343 "forgotten".

I love the gloom in this picture, but I'm certain signalling would have been impossible in this kind of weather.

Are you interested in more information? As a starting place, look here to see where I got mine.

Just a little postscript.
It seems appropriate that it is on Rememberence Day that I write this (even though it will not be posted until the 12th). Just as the Signal Stations are still remembered, neither are the men who gave their lives so we could have freedom "forgotten".
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.